Monthly Archives: January 2011


The Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit differs from the iconic John Wayne version chiefly by being true to the classic Charles Portis novel. The Coen Brothers revel in the black humor that ran through that darkly comic novel and it shows up on the screen. Much of the baroque dialogue is taken directly from the novel. Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old intent on avenging her murdered father, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn dominate the screen. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper ably assist. If you haven’t seen this new version of True Grit, you’re missing a fine movie. GRADE: A


I want to honor people who do extraordinary things to make our lives better. My first “hero” is David Kleinman who developed the critical battle-field first-aid kit for the Tucson police. Those kits saved lives after the recent shooting incident. Below is a short summary of the National Public Radio story that inspired me to recognize Mr. Kleinman. You can hear the entire story if you click below.
First responders at the Arizona shootings had an unusual tool: a fanny-pack-sized collection of first-aid materials based on gear used to save soldiers on the battlefield. And it allowed Pima County sheriff’s deputies to begin treating the wounded in the crucial minutes before paramedics arrived. Other deputies arrived. They began CPR and opened the kits. Each contained $99 worth of gear assembled by David Kleinman, the medic for the sheriff’s SWAT team. He got the idea to carry the packs after noticing how many police officers were dying from wounds they got in the line of duty.

“It wasn’t necessary for them to perish,” Kleinman says. “Had there been tools like this they probably would have survived.”

Kleinman came up with a two-hour training program called “the First Five Minutes.” He adapted an I-FAK — an Infantry First Aid Kit — for civilian use. Included in the kit’s five items is an emergency bandage he says was originally called an Israeli bandage.

The bandage — developed by the Israeli military — looks like an Ace bandage you’d wrap around your knee, with a gauze pad and clips to tighten it. It can be used on any part of the body to cover a wound and stop bleeding; you can even wrap it with a stick and use it as a leg splint. Combat gauze is also in the kit. It’s infused with coagulant to stop bleeding. There are shears to cut away clothing. A black nylon tourniquet. And an Asherman chest seal — a bandage that fits over a gunshot or stab wound and has a valve for fluid to escape. Everything in the kit is designed to be used quickly. That’s because people with severe wounds can die in the precious minutes before paramedics arrive or before it’s safe for them to enter a crime scene or an accident area.


When Patti Abbott  invited me to participate in FORGOTTEN BOOKS some 100 weeks ago, my first posting was Theodore Sturgeon’s The Dreaming Jewels (aka, The Synthetic Man).  Now that I’ve hit the century mark, I figured I should pay homage to Theodore Sturgeon, a great writer who is practically forgotten, and to North Atlantic Books who published 13 volumes of Sturgeon’s complete short stories.  Given the new publishing environment and the rise of ebooks, I doubt if such a project that took over a decade to complete, will be viable again.  I love this marvelous set of books.  Great care was taken in the production, editing, and presentation of these volumes.  All the volumes are still in print, but who knows how long that will last.  Theodore Sturgeon wrote some of the most innovative and empathic fiction I’ve ever read.  While his early work was more conventional, it was always distinctive.  Sturgeon’s later work become more experimental.  He never stopped pushing the limits of his craft.  I highly recommend this monumental series!


Most music fans know Tammi Terrell from her duets with Marvin Gaye. But Tammi had a solo career at Motown Records that few people know about. This wonderful set collects Tammi Terrell’s hits, but better yet, unreleased songs that have languished in the vaults. Tammi Terrell was talented and poised for stardom, but on October 14, 1967 she collapsed on stage into Marvin Gaye’s arms during a performance. Tammi Terrell was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which eventually led to her death at the age of 24. Listen to her songs and maybe you’ll ponder (as I do) what Tammi could have accomplished had she not died so young. GRADE: A
1 If You See Bill 3:00
2 It’s Mine 2:29
3 Voice of Experience 2:11
4 I Wancha’ To Be Sure 2:03
5 Sinner’s Devotion 2:46
6 Make the Night a Little Longer 2:33
7 Big John 2:34
8 I Cried 2:45
9 If You Don’t Think 1:53
10 If I Would Marry You previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:48
11 This Time Tomorrow previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:29
12 I’ve Got Nothing To Say But Goodbye previously unreleased 2:33
13 I Can’t Hold It In Any More previously unreleased 3:03
14 If I Would Marry You previously unreleased 3:26
15 I Can’t Believe You Love Me 2:34
16 That’s What Boys Are Made For Version 3:05
17 Come On and See Me Version 2:21
18 What a Good Man He is Version 3:01
19 Tears At the End of a Love Affair Version 2:58
20 This Old Heart of Mine (is Weak For You) 2:27
21 He’s the One I Love Version 2:38
22 Can’t Stop Now (Love is Calling) Version 2:41
23 Just Too Musc To Hope For Version 2:55
24 Hold Me Oh My Darling 2:40
25 I Can’t Go On Without You Version 2:37
26 Baby Don’tcha Worry Stereo Version / Version 2:53
27 There Are Things Stereo Version / Version 3:11
1 Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 2:26
2 All I Do is Think About You 2:59
3 Slow Down 2:49
4 I Gotta Find a Way (To Get You Back) 3:00
5 Oh How I’d Miss You Demo Version 2:41
6 Lone, Lonely Town 2:55
7 You Ain’t Livin’ ‘Till You’re Lovin’ previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:51
8 Give In You Just Can’t Win previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:40
9 When Love Comes Knocking At My Heart previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:41
10 Memory Chest previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 3:09
11 That’s How It is (Since You’ve Been Gone) previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 3:29
12 More, More, More previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:47
13 Two Can Have a Party previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 2:35
14 My Heart previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 3:04
15 Don’T Let Me Be Lonely previously unreleased / Stereo Version / Version 3:37
16 Kissing In the Shadows previously unreleased 2:54
17 Beware of a Stranger previously unreleased 2:48
18 It’S Been a Long Time Happenin’ previously unreleased 2:32
19 Almost Like Being In Love Live / previously unreleased / Live At the Roostertail 1:52
20 Stage Dialogue With Emcee Scott Regan [ Live / Live At the Roostertail 0:40
21 I Can’t Believe You Love Me Live / previously unreleased / Live At the Roostertail 2:30
22 Medley: What a Difference a Day Makes/Runnin’ Out of Fools/Tell Me the 4:48
23 Come On and See Me Live / previously unreleased / Live At the Roostertail 2:58


In 1985, at the height of his career, performer Bill Withers dropped out of sight. After hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Grandma’s Hands”, “Lean On Me”, “Use Me”, “Lovely Day”, “Just The Two Of Us” this gifted artist retreated from concert touring. The battles with the record company grew tiresome so Withers retreated from public life and began his reclusive existence. Filmmakers Alex Vlack and Damani Baker, a pair of music fans, persuaded Bill Withers to talk about his life and career as part of a documentary. Also included are interviews with Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Graham Nash as well as musical performances of “Ain’t No Shunshine” by Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket and “Who Is He And What Is He to You” by Living Colour lead singer Corey Glover. Still Bill presents an intimate portrait of this wonderful artist. GRADE: A-
1. “Ain’t No Sunshine” [9:10]
2. Sold Out [4:53]
3. Slab Fork [9:38]
4. Born Cool [3:22]
5. A Whole Lotta Life Real Fast [3:31]
6. Sensitive But Tough [6:14]
7. On Your Way to Wonderful [6:14]
8. What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be? [7:43]
9. Desperation Grows Louder [10:18]
10. “Telephone Song” [3:15]
11. “Blue Blues” [4:50]
12. “Grandma’s Hands” [7:05]


I want to thank all of you for making this blog possible. Without Jeff, Patti, Rick, Deb, Drongo, Beth, Art, Bill, BV, Evan, L.A., Bob, Todd, James, Scott, Fiona, Jerry, Gloria, Dan, Steve, Karl, Michael, and all the rest of you out there most of the energy and interest here would soon evaporate. I consider this blog a collaborative enterprise. I appreciate your visits and your comments. They motivate me to Do Better. Around June, I’ll be undergoing a total knee replacement operation, but I hope to have enough postings generated so there won’t be any break in the daily stream of reviews while I undergo the 4-6 weeks of rehab.


David E. Kelley (no relation) has a new TV series on NBC tonight: Harry’s Law. Kelley produced Allie McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal. Harry’s Law was supposed to be about a cranky, quirky male lawyer, but Kelley and his crew couldn’t find the right actor for the role. Then, they decided to open it up to female actresses and Kathy Bates won the part. I watched the pilot last week. Ho-hum. But Kelley’s creations tend to start out bland and become weird in a hurry once the suits stop observing. I’ve always considered Kathy Bates an underrated actress. I hope this series gives her a chance to really stretch her wings.


The NFL, the richest and best-run sports league in the world, finds itself with two attractive match-ups to decide which two teams will be going to the Super Bowl. My heart says, “The Jets” but my head says, “The Steelers at home.” Could the Jets win a third straight playoff game on the road? I think not. I’m openly rooting for the Green Bay Packers to beat the Chicago Bears. Spending 10 years in Wisconsin turned me into a “Packer Backer.” And what could exorcise the demon of Bret Favre better than a trip to the Super Bowl without him!


Yesterday, I reviewed Nick Flynn’s first memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. The sequel (just published), The Ticking is the Bomb, lacks the previous book’s power and energy. In a series of reveries, Nick Flynn thinks about old girl friends, failed relationships, torture, The Story of O, his mother, his father, and his new baby (yes, Flynn becomes a father!). Yet, the seeds of destruction are everywhere. Flynn has a baby with Inez, yet he still has “feelings” for Anna. On dating two women at the same time, Flynn opines: “For me, ‘dating’ often felt like reading Tolstoy–exhilarating, but a struggle, at times, to keep the characters straight.” Coming from a guy who’s part of a family of chronic substance abusers, this should come as no surprise. Flynn’s alcoholic father, the “star” of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, is threatened with eviction from his rat-infested, government-subsidized, apartment. Nick Flynn tries to delay the inevitable by removing 60 trash bags of clutter from the apartment, but in the end his father ends up in a nursing home. Flynn needed to go through The Ticking is the Bomb and remove the clutter from this book, too. GRADE: C+